Chapter 53:

A Monster World Goodbye

A Tour of the World Between Worlds

I ran with all my might as the beast slowly chased after me. Hot breath burned my back as it roared. Each step shook the ground and threatened to offset my balance—if I stumbled even a little bit, my doom would be set. Maybe that was okay, but I struggled all the same. I didn’t bother looking back to see how much distance had closed between us. I had a feeling I wouldn’t like what I saw.

My legs burned as I picked up the pace. There was no telling if I would hold out for much longer. The dead world’s rocky ground gave me a wide view of where I could go, but there was no shelter to take. Even if I found a small hole to crawl into, couldn’t the smaller foe just break off from its host to strike? Was it hopeless? It looked like the end had finally arrived.

The ground began to decline, and I did my best to take advantage of the steep hill. It must have looked more like I was skipping down the hill as I tried to make the most out of the spot.

It worked until my foot hit a rock. Losing control of my movement, I hit the ground hard and began to roll down the hill. Jagged rocks cut through my black armor multiple times, opening up several wounds from my fight with the same fleshy monster before I came to a stop. I weakly looked up to see the massive beast staring down at me. It likely wasn’t sure how to descend the hill right away. This was a chance.

My leg burst with pain as I stood up. I gritted my teeth and held my hand over the spot. It didn’t feel broken but had been twisted from tripping. The sort of injury I might typically be rid of by walking it off, but I didn’t have time for such issues. I started to limp away as fast as the pain would let me.

The beast took a careful step down the hill. From its legs, the clay-like parasite burrowed out and dug into the ground like roots. It was not going to trip so easily. I suppose this was it. I fell to the ground and sighed—my fate had led me here. This was a good end as any for a cold assassin such as myself.

But, I couldn’t let it end so soon. Seeing Akimitsu again, doing well for a dead man, perhaps lit a fire in me, or maybe I was just being stupid. I grabbed at the ground and pulled myself forward, a small slide of my body, just to show final defiance to the monster. If I died, I at least wouldn’t die in despair.

“Geronimo!” a voice rang from overhead. My mouth fell open as I turned upward.

Free falling in the sky, hands linked together, so they were in a circle, were the others. Orrin gleefully laughed as they fell. Casey and Enas remained stern-faced.

“Why did you have us enter in the sky!” Pythagoras shouted. I suspect I might have seen tears flowing from his eyes if he was closer.

“Because the ground is dangerous!” Lerato replied with the tone of a warrior ready for battle.

“You fools,” I whispered.

They let go of each other’s hands and maneuvered in the air. Casey stabbed a golden spear into the creature’s eye—a burst of green energy took out the organ—and Lerato threw his metal weights like disks at the other. The monster reeled back from the blows as the first two retreated back, leaving their items behind. Pythagoras threw a small device at the head next, and Enas shot it when it closed in. Whatever the goblin had created exploded in a fiery ball across the monster’s face. He seemed to weep from the destroyed item more than the freefall.

Orrin landed next to me and helped me to my feet.

“Hey, Kiko! You’re looking less blue!”

I don’t know what about this picture didn’t look sad. Pathetic might have been a better word, but I didn’t care to argue.

“What are you all doing here?” I shouted as I shoved his hand away. They ought to have been enjoying peace and quiet in the grey world.

“Coming to save you, obviously,” Pythagoras added as he came close. “You should be grateful; those batteries don’t grow on trees, you know!”

I didn’t know what to say, and I stared out into space as a ferocious fight to repel the beast began. Claylike tendrils moved like whips to knock back the fighters from the damaged host. I could hardly believe they came all this way, but what else would be the case? There was no other reason to enter this hellish world; it was more the case that it should be actively avoided.

Still, what did I do to deserve their support? If anything, now that my memories were back, I knew I was the last person they should risk coming to help. My eyes began to burn, and I shut them tightly before any liquid could escape. Akimitsu, that idiot. He said something about finding five others; he could have been a little more direct after the fact. I guess, at the very least, I didn’t give up—even without the knowledge, the others would drop in; maybe he wanted to give me a chance to do so. The next time I saw him, I would have to smack him on the head.

I smiled. The one thing I was sure of was that I could never thank them enough, but I would need to find some words to show my gratitude.

The others backed up close to us.

“I don’t think this thing is going down easily,” Enas warned.

Orrin nodded.

“Alright! We didn’t come here to fight; let’s get going while the going is good!” The goofy tone never left his words, but he still seemed serious for once. Maybe it was my imagination. I opened my eyes and nodded to him.

The others quickly locked hands—forming a chain. Orrin reached out his free hand to me, and they all looked back at me. “Let’s get out of here! Everyone! Kiko! Get ready!

I took his hand, and the green man jumped in the air, shouting: “Ominoreg!” To say we were lifted out of the world would be a lie. It was more like the ground gave way, and we fell while moving up at the same time. I saw the scene slowly dissolve, or maybe it would be more accurate to say it faded away, as my vision was overtaken by the process of leaving the world. Either way, the odd sensation made it clear we had escaped.

The six of us linked together fell face forward onto the world-lake’s shore. Mud splattered across our bodies, and I had to shut my eyes to keep them clean. The green-clad laughed as he let go and stood up; our landing did nothing to hinder his movements if the sounds were any indication. I began to wipe off the mud as the others complained.

“Orrin, that was the worst one yet!” Enas grumbled.

“I am inclined to agree,” Lerato added.

“Hey, we were short on time!” Orrin defended himself. “But that isn’t important right now. Quick, everyone, make sure you don’t have a little piece of that monster on you!” I heard shuffling as the ones who got close must have checked themselves like they were looking for ticks.

They all gave a sigh of relief once everything was confirmed to be safe. I pushed the last bit of mud away from my eyes and reeled back at the sight.

The world was full of color.

Once, grey trees were glowing with vivid browns and greens, unlike I had ever seen. How could I even describe it? The flowers were dyed with an assortment of bright shades, and the sky was a more clear blue than I had ever imagined possible. It was the world between worlds, but unlike I had seen before. I almost fell back into the monster world from shock. Luckily, Orrin caught me. I shut my eyes again.

“It’s colorful,” I said quietly.

“Always has been!” Orrin replied. “Come on, let’s get your leg fixed up!

The green man offered to carry me, but I refused. I limped a couple of steps ahead to show I could move. The others shook their heads, and we walked back to the base camp.